Children's Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is realistic fiction set in the past.  This may include various periods of time, even back to pre-historic times. These books are found in the Junior Fiction, Intermediate Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction sections.

*Indicates appropriate age, Lexile indicates reading difficulty.

Al Capone Does My Shirts – Gennifer Choldenko

A 12-year old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards’ families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister. 

I FIC Choldenko, 228 pgs.

*Ages 10-12, Lexile: 600

The Apothecary – Maile Meloy

Follows a 14-year old American girl whose life unexpectedly transforms when she moves to London in 1952 and gets swept up in a race to save the world from nuclear war.

YA F Meloy, 353 pgs.

*Ages 10-Teens, Lexile: 740

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple – Karen Cushman

In 1849. 12-year old California Morning Whipple, who renames herself Lucy, is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a rough California mining town.

I FIC Cushman, 195 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1030

Beyond the Bright Sea – Lauren Wolk

When Crow was an infant, she washed up on the shore of one of the Elizabethan Islands in Massachusetts. When Crow is twelve, some things happen that make her wonder about where she was born and why she was abandoned. Her investigation leads to a nearby island that used to hold a leper colony.

I FIC Wolk, 304 pgs.

*Ages 11-14, Lexile 770

The Birchbark House – Louise Erdrich

Omakayas, a 7-year old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.

JF Erdrich, 277pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 970

Blood on the River: James Town 1607 –Elisa Lynn Carbone

Traveling to the New World in 1606 as the page to Captain John Smith, 12-year old orphan Samuel Collier settles in the new colony of James Town, where he must quickly learn to distinguish between friend and foe.

JF Carbone, 237 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 820

Brave Like My Brother – Marc Tyler Nobleman

The story of an American soldier in WWII England who shares his war experiences (including a historic, dangerous secret mission) with his 10-year-old brother via letters.

JF Nobleman, 112 pgs.

*Ages 9-12 Lexile 770

Bread and Roses, Too – Katherine Paterson

Jake and Rosa form an unlikely friendship as they try to survive and understand the 1912 Bread and Roses strike of mill workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

I FIC Paterson, 275 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 810

The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth George Speare

A young boy seeks revenge against the Romans for killing his parents, but is turned away from vengeance by Jesus.

JF Speare, 254 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 760

Caddie Woodlawn – Carol Ryrie Brink

Chronicles the adventures of 11-year old Caddie growing up with her 6 brothers and sisters on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-19th century.   Large Print.

JF Brink, 272 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 890

Calico Bush – Rachel Field

In 1743, 13-year old Marguerite Ledoux travels to Maine as the indentured servant of a family that regards her as little better than the Indians that threaten them, but her strength and courage surprise them all.

JF Field, 201 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1060

Catherine, Called Birdy –Karen Cushman

The 13-year old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her efforts to avoid being married off. 

I FIC Cushman, 169 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1170

Catherine: The Great Journey – Kristiana Gregory

A fictional diary of Catherine, the Great, who is married at age 15.  Includes historical notes.

JF Gregory, 169 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 870

The Cay – Taylor Theodore

When the freighter on which they are traveling is torpedoed by a U-boat, a blind white boy and an old black man are stranded on a tiny Caribbean island. 

I FIC Theodore, 137 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 860

Chains: Seeds of America – Laurie Halse Anderson

After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

I FIC Anderson, 316 pgs. 

*10-Teens, Lexile: 780

City of Orphans – Avi 

In 1893 New York, 13-year old, Maks, a newsboy, teams up with Willa, a homeless girl, to clear his older sister, Emma, from charges that she stole from the hotel where she works.

I FIC  Avi, 350 pgs.

*Ages 10-Teens, Lexile: 570

The Crazy Man – Pamela Porter

It is 1965, and twelve-year-old Emaline lives on a wheat farm in southern Saskatchewan. Despite the neighbors’ disapproval, Emaline’s mother hires Angus, a patient from the local mental hospital, to work their fields. Though the small town’s prejudice creates a cloud of suspicion around Angus that nearly results in tragedy, in the end he becomes a force for healing as Emaline comes to terms with her injury and the loss of her father.    

I FIC Porter, 176 pgs.       

*Ages 9-12

Crispin: The Cross of Lead – Avi 

Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in 14th century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.

I FIC Avi, 262 p. 

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 780

The Doll with the Yellow Star – Yona Zeldis McDonough

When France falls to Germany at the start of World War II, 9-year old Claudine must leave her parents and stay with relatives in America, accompanied by her doll, Violette.

JF McDonough, 90 pgs.

*Ages 7-10, Lexile: 830

Dragonwings – Laurence Yep

In the early 20th century a young Chinese boy joins his father in San Francisco and help him realize his dream of making a flying machine.

JF Yep, 317 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 870

Elijah of Buxton – Christopher Paul Curtis

 In 1859, 11-year old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family’s freedom.

JF Curtis, 395 pgs.  Large Print.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1070

Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor – Kathryn Lasky 

In a series of diary entries, Princess Elizabeth, the 11-year old daughter of King Henry VIII, celebrates holidays and birthdays, relives her mother’s execution, revels in her studies and agonizes over her father’s health.

JF Dear Royal, 237 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 820

Esperanza Rising – Pam Munoz-Ryan

Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California.  Great Depression era.

I FIC Ryan, 262 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 750

Five 4ths of July– Pat Hughes 

4-year old Jake Mallory and his friends are celebrating their new nation’s independence, but over the next 4 years Jake finds himself in adventurous circumstances.

YA F Hughes, 278 pgs. 

*Teens, Lexile: 710

Forge – Laurie Halse Anderson

Revolutionary War. Separated from his friend Isabel after their daring escape from slavery, 15-year old Curzon serves as a free man in the Continental Army until he and Isabel are thrown together again, as slaves once more.

I FIC Anderson, 297 pgs.

*Ages 10-Teens, Lexile: 820

The Friendship – Mildred D. Taylor 

1930s Mississippi.  Four children witness a confrontation between an elderly black man and a white storekeeper in rural Mississippi.

I FIC Taylor, 53 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 750

The Green Glass Sea 

– Ellen Klages – 1943.  11-year old Dewey Kerrigan travels west on a train to live with her scientist father – but no one will tell her exactly where he is.  When she reaches Los Alamos, New Mexico, she learns why – he’s working on a top secret government program.

I FIC Klages, 321 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 790

Hart of a Samurai: Based on the True Story of Manjiro Nakahama – Margi Preus

In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck, 14-year old, Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the U.S.

I FIC Preus, 301 pgs.  

*Ages 9-13, Lexile: 760

The Hero Two Doors Down – Sharon Robinson

Stephen Satlow is an eight-year-old boy living in Brooklyn, New York, which means he only cares about one thing--the Dodgers. Steve and his father spend hours reading the sports pages and listening to games on the radio. Then it happens—Steve discovers that his new neighbor is none other than Jackie Robinson! Steve is beyond excited and can’t wait to meet Jackie. This is going to be the best baseball season yet! 

JF Robinson, 208 pgs.

*Ages 7-10

Ice Drift – Theodore Taylor

Two Inuit brothers must fend for themselves while stranded on an ice floe that is adrift in the Greenland Strait.

JF Taylor, 224 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 890

The Invasion of Sandy Bay – Anita Sanchez

In 1814, as the War of 1812 rages, 12-year old Lemuel Brooks tries to save the sleepy fishing village of Sandy Bay, Massachusetts, where he, himself, is an outsider, from British invaders.

JF Sanchez   *Ages 9-12

The Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell

Left alone on an isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends 18 years, not only merely surviving through her courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.

JF O’Dell, 181 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1000

Johnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

After injuring his hand, a silversmith’s apprentice in Boston becomes a messenger for the Sons of Liberty in the days before the American Revolution.

I FIC Forbes, 256 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 840

Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple

 Kathryn Lasky – 12-year old Mem presents a diary account of the trip she and her family made on the Mayflower in 1620 and their first year in the New World.

JF Dear, 173 pg.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 900

Note: Dear America series books feature historical topics. JF Dear

Journey to Topaz – Yoshiko Uchida

After the Pearl Harbor attack an 11-year old Japanese-American girl and her family are forced to go to an aliens’ camp in Utah.

JF Uchida, 149 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 970

Let the Circle Be Unbroken – Mildred D. Taylor

4 black children growing up in rural Mississippi during the Depression, experience racial antagonisms and hard times, but learn from their parents the pride and self-respect they need to survive.

I FIC Taylor, 394 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 850

Lewis and Clark and Me:  A Dog’s Tale – Laurie Myers

Seaman, Meriwether Lewis’s Newfoundland dog, describes Lewis and Clark’s expedition, which he accompanied from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.

JF Myers, 64 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 470

The Light in the Forest – Conrad Richter

Returned to his white family, Indian captive John Cameron Butler wants to go back to his Indian family whom he respects and loves.

YA Richter, 179 pgs.

*Ages 12-15, Lexile: 870

A Lion to Guard Us – Clyde Robert Bulla

Left on their own in 17-centure London, 3 impoverished children draw upon all their resources to stay together and make their way to the Virginia colony in search of their father.

JF Bulla, 117 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 360

Little House on Rocky Ridge – Roger Lea MacBride

IN 1894 Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband, and her 7-year old daughter Rose leave the Ingalls family in Dakota and make the long and difficult journey to Missouri to start a new life.

JF Wilder, 353 pgs.   

 *Ages 8-12, Lexile: 630

Note: Roger Lea MacBride’s Rocky Ridge books follow the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, in Missouri.

JF Wilder

Lunch-box Dream – Tony Abbott

A white family on a 1959 road trip between Ohio and Florida, visiting Civil War battlefields along the way, crosses paths with a black family near Atlanta, where one of their children has gone missing.

I FIC Abbott, 178 pgs.

*Ages 10-14, Lexile: 800

Lyddie – Katherine Paterson

Impoverished Vermont farm girl, Lyddie Worthen, is determined to gain her independence by becoming a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1840’s.

I FIC Paterson, 182 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 860

Matilda Bone – Karen Cushman 

14-year old Matilda, an apprentice bonesetter and practitioner of medicine in a village in medieval England, tries to reconcile the various aspects of her life, both spiritual and practical. 

I FIC Cushman, 167 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 850

Midwife’s Apprentice – Karen Cushman

In medieval England, a nameless, homeless girl is taken in by a sharp-tempered midwife, and in spite of obstacles and hardship, eventually gains the 3 things she wants most in the world.

I FIC Cushman, 122 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1240

Miracles on Maple Hill – Virginia Eggertsen Sorensen

Marly and her family share many adventures when they move from the city to a farmhouse on Maple Hill. Her father is recovering from being a prisoner-of-war. The small town and the varied happenings and activities of country life help them to recover from past unhappiness, and bond more closely as a family.

JF Sorensen, 256 pgs.    *Ages 9-12

Molly’s Pilgrim – Barbara Cohen

Told to make a Pilgrim doll for the Thanksgiving display at school, Molly is embarrassed when her mother tries to help her out by creating a doll dressed as she herself was dressed before leaving Russia to seek religious freedom.

JF Cohen    *Ages 5-9    Lexile: 450

The Moon Bridge – Marcia Savin

The friendship between San Francisco girls Mitzi Fujimoto and Ruthie Fox is changed when World War II begins and Mitzi and her family are forced to go into an internment camp.

JF Savin, 240 pgs.

*Ages 9-12

Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg – W.R. Philbrick 

12-year old Homer, a poor but clever orphan, has extraordinary adventures after running away from his evil uncle to rescue his brother, who has been sold into service in the Civil War.

I FIC Philbrick, 224 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 950

Miracles on Maple Hill – Virginia Eggertsen Sorensen

Marly and her family share many adventures when they move from the city to a farmhouse on Maple Hill. Her father is recovering from being a prisoner-of-war. The small town and the varied happenings and activities of country life help them to recover from past unhappiness, and bond more closely as a family.

JF Sorensen, 256 pgs.    

*Ages 9-12  Lexile: 750

One Crazy Summer – Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to California, 11-year old Delphine and her 2 younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother is resentful of their visit and wants them to attend a Black Panther summer camp.

JF Williams-Garcia, 218 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 750

On the Wings of Heroes – Richard Peck

A boy in Illinois remembers the home front years of World War II, especially his 2 heroes – his brother in the Air Force, and his father, who fought in the previous war.

I FIC Peck, 148 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 730

Palace Beautiful – Sarah DeFord Williams

After her move to Salt Lake City, 13-year old Sadie finds a journal in a hide-hole in the attic, and along with her sister and new friend she reads about the influenza epidemic of 1918.

JF Williams, 232 pgs.

*Ages 10-14, Lexile: 680

The Perilous Road – William O. Steele

An engrossing, realistic story of a Tennessee mountain boy who, during the Civil War, comes to realize that war is terrible no matter where one’s sympathies lie.

JF Steele, 155 pgs.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – Mildred D. Taylor 

A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression, is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand.

I FIC Taylor, 276 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 920

Roller Skates - Ruth Sawyer

Growing up in a well-to-do family with strict rules and routines can be tough for a ten-year-old girl who only wants to roller skate. But when Lucinda Wyman’s parents go overseas on a trip to Italy and leave her behind in the care of Miss Peters and Miss Nettie in New York City, she suddenly gets all the freedom she wants! But Lucinda has no idea what new experiences the city will show her.... Some of which will change her life forever.

JF Sawyer, 186 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 810

The Sacrifice – Kathleen Benner Duble

2 sisters are accused of witchcraft in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1692 and await trial in a miserable prison while their mother desperately searches for some way to obtain their freedom.

I FIC Duble, 211 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 720

Sarah, Plain and Tall –Patricia MacLachlan

When their father invites a mail-order bride to come live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by their new mother and hope that she will stay.

JF MacLachlan, 67 pgs.   (also Battle of the Books)

*Ages 9-12:  Lexile: 560

The Shakespeare Stealer –Gary L. Blackwood

A young orphan boy is ordered by his master to infiltrate Shakespeare’s acting troupe in order to steal the script of “Hamlet,” but he discovers instead the meaning of friendship and loyalty.

I FIC Blackwood, 216 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 840

The Sign of the Beaver –Elizabeth George Speare

Left alone to guard the family’s

wilderness home in 18th century Maine, a boy is hard-pressed to survive until local Indians teach him their skills.

I FIC Speare, 135 pgs.

*Ages 10-Teens, Lexile: 770

Sisters of the Sword – Maya Snow

 Kimi dreams of being a great samurai warrior, but she and her sister, Hana, are young ladies of feudal Japan, daughters of the "Jito" of the province. Her future seems clear: Girls do not become samurai. In a flash, life has swept them into a terrible adventure, more heart-pounding than Kimi and Hana ever could have imagined . . . and once it has been set in motion, nothing will ever be the same.

JF Snow, 245 pgs.     

*Ages 9-12, Lexile 840

The Slave Dancer – Paula Fox

 Kidnapped and on an African-bound ship, 13-year old Jessie discovers to his horror that he is on a slaver and 

his job is to play music for the exercise periods of the human cargo.

I FIC Fox, 176 pgs.

*Ages 10-14, Lexile: 970

Snow Treasure – Marie McSwigan

 In 1940, when the Nazi invasion of Norway reaches their village, 12-yewar old Peter and his friends use their sleds to transport 9 million dollars’ worth of gold bullion past the German soldiers to the secret harbor where Peter’s uncle keeps his ship ready to take the gold for safekeeping in the U.S.

I FIC McSwigan, 196 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 690

Stella by Starlight – Sharon Draper 

Stella lives in a small segregated town in North Carolina in 1932.  One night, not long before the presidential election, Stella sees the white-clad Klan members burning a cross in a nearby white town.  Stella and her neighbors rally around Stella’s father and two other men who decide to register to vote despite Klan threats.  

I FIC Draper, 320 p.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile 740

Time Cat – Lloyd Alexander

 Jason and his magic cat Gareth travel through time to visit countries all over the world during different periods of history.

I FIC Alexander, 211 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 660

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi 

As the lone female on a transatlantic voyage in 1832, Charlotte leans that the captain is murderous and the crew rebellious; she becomes the center of a deadly voyage that will challenge her will to survive.

I FIC Avi, 229 pgs.

*Teens, Lexile: 740

Turtle in Paradise – Jennifer L. Holm

In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, 11-year old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far-away Key West, Florida.

I FIC Holm, 191 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 610

Two Crafty Criminals! And How They Were Captured by the Daring Detectives in the New Cut Gang: Including Thunderbolt’s Waxwork & the Gas-Fitters’ Ball – Philip Pullman

 11-year old Benny Kaminsky leads a rag-tag gang of neighborhood children as they use improbably disguises and ruses while investigating such crimes as counterfeiting and stolen silver in 1894 London.

I FIC Pullman, 281 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 830

Victory – Susan Cooper  

Alternating chapters follow the mysterious connection between a homesick English girl living in present day America, and an 11-year old boy serving in the British Royal Navy in 1803.

JF Cooper, 196 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 1010

Walk Across the Sea – Susan Fletcher

 In late 19th century California, 15-year old Eliza Jan McCully defies the townspeople and her father to help a Chinese boy who has been kind to her.

I FIC Fletcher, 214 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 600

The Warden’s Daugther – Jerry Spinelli 

12-year-old Cammie lives with her father who is the warden of the local prison.  Cammie’s mother has died and she decides that one of the inmates who works as a housemaid for the Warden should be her surrogate mother, Her efforts to befriend the woman lead to an emotional crisis, the resolution of which allows Cammie to move forward with her life.

I FIC Spinelli, 343 p.

*Ages 10-14, Lexile 550

The War That Saved My Life –Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. 

 Ada lives with a very abusive mother and her little brother, Jamie, in a flat in London at the beginning of WWII.  When the children are evacuated from London and sent to the country at the beginning of the war, Ada and her little brother are taken in by a single lady who "doesn’t like children." Miss Smith soon finds that caring for the neglected children fills a space in her own empty heart.

I FIC Bradley 316 pgs.

*Ages 9-12  Lexile 580

War Horse – Michael Morpurgo 

Joey the horse recalls his experiences growing up on an English farm, his struggle for survival as a cavalry horse in the First World War, and his reunion with his beloved master.

 I FIC Morpurgo, 165 pgs.   

*Ages 9-12 Lexile 580

Water Street – Patricia Reilly Giff

Bird Mallon’s mother is a healer who walks the neighborhood in 1880’s Brooklyn helping any in need.  Bird wants to be a healer like her mom but a bad experience sends her into doubt. 

J FIC Giff

Ages 9-12, Lexile 740

Will Sparrow’s Road – Karen Cushman 

in 1599 England, 12-year old lying, thieving Will Sparrow runs away, meets many colorful characters on the road, and then reluctantly joins a traveling “oddities” exhibit where he learns to see beyond appearances.

I FIC Cushman, 216 pgs.    

*Ages 10-14  Lexile 810

The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare 

 In 1687 Connecticut, Kit Tyler, feeling out of place in the Puritan household of her aunt, befriends an old woman considered by the community and finds herself standing trial for witchcraft.  Large Print.

I FIC Speare, 317 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 850

Wonderstruck – Brian Selznick

 Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, 12-year old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City.

I FIC Selznick, 637 pgs.

*Ages 8-12, Lexile: 830

Woods Runner – Gary Paulsen

 From his 1776 Pennsylvania homestead, 13-year old Samuel, who is a highly skilled woodsman, sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Indians who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community.

I FIC Paulsen, 164 pgs.

*Teens, Lexile: 870

The Wreckers – Iain Lawrence

 Shipwrecked after a storm, 14-year old John Spencer attempts to save his father and himself while dealing with an evil secret about the English town where they are stranded.

I FIC Lawrence, 196 pgs.

*Ages 9-12, Lexile: 640